I don’t mow the lawn very often. It’s never been the most beautiful lawn, and I’m not really into gardening. I cut it when I think it’s got too long, unless my wife’s got tired of waiting and done it herself; if so, it can wait until the next time it’s got too long.
But when I do mow the lawn, I like to celebrate with a beer. It goes something like this.
Preparation (1). The first couple of times I did this, I started by putting a bottle of beer in the fridge. Experience taught me that half an hour in the fridge has little or no effect. The first step is therefore to put a bottle of beer in the freezer.
Preparation (2). Get the lawnmower out of the garage and plug it in, remembering to use the circuit-breaker. (Which didn’t trip on the one occasion when I did slice the cable, but no matter – it could be useful some day.) Move the slide and the climbing frame. My children get about as much use out of a climbing frame and a three-step moulded plastic slide as you’d expect from a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old – very little and none at all, respectively – but the idea of getting rid of the slide has not been popular. As for the climbing frame, we assembled it in situ, and I think it would take an awful lot of WD40 to get those joints undone again. I don’t think it’s going anywhere… except when I mow the lawn, at which point it makes a stately tripodal progress from one side of the lawn to the other, clanging gently as it goes (there’s a pole hanging from a chain in the middle of the frame). This isn’t that difficult, once you’ve got the knack of elevating two sides and pivoting on the third, but it’s not what you’d call effortless.
The easy bits. There’s a nice, level, flourishing bit of lawn at the house end of the garden. I mow that first (side to side). Then I do the right-hand side of the lawn, top to bottom. Nothing much to report, apart from a tree root the size of a sewer pipe halfway down, and the lawn turning into bare earth at the far end (really must do something about that some time). It’s not hard work, although it is fairly noisy. For a while I mowed the lawn with headphones on, but I abandoned this approach after protestations concerning my rendition of “Dr Luther’s Assistant” by Elvis Costello. (My singing voice has been complimented on numerous occasions; my sing-along-to-Elvis-Costello-over-the-noise-of-the-mower voice, less so.) And empty the grass bin.
The hard bits. Now for the left-hand side. Clang, clang, clang, goes the climbing frame as I walk and pivot it back to where it came from to start with. The slide also goes back to its starting point. The left-hand side of the lawn isn’t much different from the right – as you might expect – but it is rather more severely affected by the tree whose root I referred to just now. It’s a flowering (as in non-fruiting) cherry; it’s at the top left corner of the lawn, and it’s much bigger than it was when the previous owner planted it. I mean, much bigger – the root system especially. The top left corner of the lawn has more or less ceased to exist, replaced by scattered tufts of grass in among a kind of rockery of gnarled and mower-scalped tree roots (a rootery?). Further down it gets pretty bumpy, too. Some of it gets mown top to bottom, some side to side, and by the time I’ve finished it I’m getting pretty thirsty. And empty the grass bin again.
The really hard bit. We’ve got this lawn at the front. It’s tiny. It takes five minutes maximum. Unplug the lawnmower, bring it through to the front, plug it in somewhere else. It’s quite a warm day and I’m getting seriously thirsty now. Come on, let’s get this over with. There, it’s done. Empty the grass bin one last time. Untangle the flex. Put the mower away. Ought to clean it really, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. Used to go over the edges with a pair of shears. Never really noticed when I stopped doing it, though. Wind up the flex. Put the lawnmower away. Done!
The good bit.